Crosby Kicking With Confidence

With six days remaining before their season-opener vs. CSU, the Buffs didn't let up at practice Monday, running through a tough physical session as they focus in on the Rams. Also inside, placekicker <!--Default NodeId For Mason Crosby is 1221196,2004--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:1221196]>Mason Crosby</A> talks about his August camp, and two new team captains talk about their new roles.

"We did a lot of everything today," head coach Gary Barnett said. "We had a good, thorough, tough, physical practice. We'll repeat that tomorrow."

On Monday, the Buffs continued implementing their game plan for Saturday's game with the Rams. Barnett said that after Sunday's day off, the team was showing a lot of enthusiasm because Game Week had officially arrived.

"This'll carry them through Tuesday and then they'll be tired of it," Barnett said. "After tomorrow's practice, I will have fooled them as long as I can fool them. And then we'll just be ready to go play somebody else.

"But right now, the guys that are playing the game know how important these three practices are for the game plan. They know we're not ready to play and that we need these days to get ready."

Aye, aye, Captain
Their teammates elected Joel Klatt, Bobby Purify, Matt McChesney and Sam Wilder team captains on Friday night.

Two of the players, seniors McChesney and Wilder, are testaments to perseverance and the maturity process that so many Colorado players go through, but that often gets overlooked in the public's eye in favor of attention paid to the occasional player who leaves the program for one reason or another.

Both McChesney and Wilder were suspended from the university, and the team, during the spring 2002 semester for violating the university's code of conduct. But rather than hang it up, McChesney, from Longmont, and Wilder, from Dallas, took care of business and worked themselves back into good standing with CU, and the football team, the following fall.

Nowadays, both have the respect of their teammates and coaches for their play on the field, and demeanor off.

"When I got here five years ago I never thought it would happen," McChesney said about being named captain. "But it's the way the cards played out. I've really tried to be a good leader, just a model of perseverance and inspiration for this team. And that's what they saw."

Wilder also said he was honored with the duty.

"I've got to produce on the field, and do everything right in the classroom and in the weightroom," Wilder said when asked what the role entailed. "It's a responsibility."

McChesney is the lone defensive player among the four captains. But he said that doesn't mean anything.

"We've got other guys on the defense that may not wear the C, but they play just as big a role as I do," he said. "There's a lot of captains on this team. Not just the four of us."

Crosby kicking with more confidence
Sophomore placekicker Mason Crosby has a big leg, no question about it. But there's more than leg strength that goes into being a successful kicker.

The mental aspect of kicking in a major college football contest is often just as important as having the physical part down. A year ago, Crosby had a solid season as a true freshman. But if he's to live up to head coach Gary Barnett's preseason proclamation that the youngster from Georgetown, Texas, has the chance to hold all the CU placekicking records before he's done, Crosby has to make some strides forward in 2004.

Crosby says he's a more confident kicker these days, and he's getting the ball higher as it leaves the holder's hands, two issues that he had to deal with last season.

The sophomore spoke with BSN about how things are going, what he's looking forward to in 2004, and some of his preparation process as a placekicker.

Q: How has your preseason gone?
Mason Crosby:
It's been going pretty good. I'm looking forward to the CSU game.

Q: Last year you played as a true freshman in front of 70,000 fans at Invesco. Do you prefer playing this game in Denver, or at Folsom?
It was kind of crazy freshman year playing down at Invesco. But I love being here at Folsom. It's kind of hard to explain which one's better. But I like that we're staying here.

Q: What do you do as a kicker to tune out the noise in a big game?
I don't ever look up into the stands. I try not to see any people. It's one of those things, when I'm on the field, all I hear is field noise. I try not to pay any attention to anything that's going on in the stands.

It's all a focus thing, something I start before the game.

What do you do to help get that focus? Do you have a routine?
Yeah, I go out and jog around the field before anyone's in the stadium. Whenever I'm kicking, there's hardly anyone in there. So the only time that I see the stadium full is after I'm done warming up, and when we come running in behind Ralphie.

It's just a process. I focus, I don't see any crowd, and then by the time we come out I'm ready for the game.

Q: How has this August been for you compared to a year ago?
I feel way more confident. Every time I go out there, I don't think about kicking the ball, I just feel confident in everything that's going on. I like not having to think about it and just going out there and having it feel more natural than it did last year.

I feel a lot more confident in how my leg's feeling. I have more strength than last year. I'm getting good height on the ball. Hopefully, all of them will go through.

Q: How has the transition been getting used to the new holder, Nick Holz. How is that relationship?
It's good. He's really filled (John Donahoe's) shoes pretty well. He'll be around a couple more years too. Hopefully we'll work together for that long.

It was kind of difficult at first. I had gotten used to Donahoe, but it's been a good transition. I worked with him and Dusty (Sprague) in the spring. Dusty's a really good holder, too, but Holz kind of felt like Donahoe did last year.

Q: Did you grow up with the typical dreams of being the guy that goes out and kicks the game-winning field goal?
Oh yeah. I don't want to have to, because we kind of want to win the games before that. But in the back of my mind, if I have that chance I dream about making the game-winner.

BuffStampede Top Stories